Wednesday, May 27, 2015

DreamWorks Unveils New Project: 'Beekle'


The moon boy studio has a new project cooking, and it sounds like it has potential...

DreamWorks has been laying low for a little while, and I don't really blame them. Last year was particularly rough, and the year before that wasn't any better. If you were in the know since last fall, you'll know what trouble they went through in the past couple of months...

However, their latest - and only release this year - film Home is currently something of a modest success, or maybe it's a sigh of relief. The film currently sits at $168 million domestically, the biggest for a non-sequel DreamWorks picture since The Croods. Worldwide? $361 million, which is technically 2.6x its budget.

But will DreamWorks consider this a break-even film? Penguins of Madagascar made 2.7x its budget and they still called it flop, and took a $57 million write down on the film. I've said this before, their math is something that's a mystery to me. Monsters vs. Aliens barely doubled its huge $175 million budget back in the spring of 2009, but they didn't fret. Apparently that was a hit. Different times, I guess?

Moving on, they said a while back that they would announce a feature that'll be debuting in China first in the first quarter of 2018. We'd even get the cast and details, and this announcement of an announcement pretty much implied that it would be Oriental DreamWorks' first animated feature...

The new project announced today doesn't sound like it could be it, or maybe it could be, given the director and writer's background in low budget fare... You never know...

The writer-director of this project is Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adults), and the project is called Beekle...


What's it about?

Very little was revealed of the plot, which is odd considering that when DreamWorks used to announce projects (many of which still haven't come to fruition), they'd give out pretty detailed synopses. This project is based on a book called The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, by Dan Santat. The plot of that book? An "imaginary friend" is born on an island and waits to be chosen by a child, but he's never picked. Finally, he journeys to a city and finds someone who names him Beekle... I've heard that the book is surprisingly good, a children's book that's more for the adults.

If done right, this could be a decent heartfelt family comedy. With Reitman behind it, there's promise, though it does sound like yet another family-friendly romp. (Yes yes I know, I shouldn't be expecting DreamWorks to do something different like Alma.) However, if this one has a much more adult-friendly edge (think Up and Inside Out), then it could really be good.

We'll have to wait and see. If it's not that mystery Q1 2018 project, expect this to be a 2019 release at the earliest. If anything, DreamWorks will probably keep a tight lip on things that "could" come out in 2019 and beyond. I think in the coming months and years, we'll be seeing a very different DreamWorks in a way. They won't announce jam-packed slates that think far ahead, they'll probably wait this one out - and other future productions - before inking a release date, that way the production(s) can sail smoothly.

What's your take on this project? What do you think DreamWorks' announcement strategy will be now that they have changed? Sound off below!

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